Let the world ring with the sound of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!” (Said a would-be Christmas villain who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with this song.)
You’ve probably heard the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” many times. It’s about a fellow who risks venturing out into a storm at Christmastime to do some good. I do an insanely awkward-looking Charleston to it when the mood strikes, but I also get what it means to step out into a storm. Sometimes it feels like the issues we’re supposed to be up in arms about are so silly that no one could really be that upset. And yet, if you say, “hmmm, maybe this is more silly than deleterious, let’s chill out Frosty-style,” we fear we risk never being able to return from the storm.
But hurl your chalices of egg nog at me: I like the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” And I don’t think that it’s a seasonal hornbook for assault.
I don’t believe that the members of the Greatest Generation liked little finer than going to parties where the soundtrack espoused rape. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy. Even if your life at the moment is rubbish, you can look forward to that maybe not being the case in future Christmases. It’s a time of hope and good jokes over drinks and some cheek, too. A little bit of what I think of as elfin humor.
I was dating a woman once and she didn’t like to take any medicine. We were driving in the car and she was complaining for a long stretch of miles about a bad stomach ache. I had some Rolaids in my bag, offered one, to which she replied, huge smile on her face, “How do I know the R on the pill doesn’t stand for roofie?”
That was a nice day we had. She wasn’t pro-criminal sexual acts, nor was I. It was a joke on her part. Now, there’s a joke in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” but it might not be the joke that you may think it is.
It wasn’t exactly easy at the time—1944—for women to be open about their sex lives. Indulging in pleasure was waved away, often, with a reference to drink, as in, “I did this with so and so, something must have gotten in my drink, wink wink nudge nudge.” It was a saying.
Sayings, of course, often perish with their age. In 100 years’ time, people will likely have no clue of why on earth we were saying “sorry not sorry.” “At the end of the day.” “LOL.”
When I hear this song, I always think, “I bet it could have worked for that couple.” I’m a little envious. They have rapport. Pretty rare commodity, rapport. It’s that natural back and forth you have with someone that you were aware of inside of the first five minutes you spent in each other’s company.
True rapport is a rhythm. Rapport is a duet. Rapport is rare. I think we feel the rapports we have in our lives most tenderly at Christmas, just as those of us who wish we had more of them—and one in particular with a special person, our go-to person, our main person—feel, as Dickens might say, the want all the keener.
When I hear this song, I imagine William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man—one of the greatest Christmas films—singing it to each other. I know of no film couple that looks more in love or has greater rapport. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it’s based on them to a degree.
And I think, maybe…ready your snowballs, and pack some ice in them if you must…that if you’re really bothered this much by a song that never used to bother anyone, you’re not actually really that bothered by it. I think maybe what you’re bothered by is the rapport that you don’t have in your life with enough people.
I know! I’m like the Abominable Snow Man in Rudolph whom you want to push over the edge of the cliff. It’s just a thought. But it’s also just a song. Sometimes, as good King Wenceslas knew, coming in from the storm just means picking the right path, and leaving the others in peace.